Sunday, July 22, 2012

Computer Virus Scams

The other day I was sitting at home, quietly working on my computer, when I received a call from a foreign sounding man who insisted that he was calling from the Microsoft Help Desk, and they had a detected a virus on my computer.  "It is degrading your hard drive as we speak," he said.

I was skeptical.  We had our computer thoroughly gone through by an computer expert a couple of months ago, and he had upgraded our anti-virus program, and made several other changes to protect our system.

The man on the phone kept trying to get me to go to a site where he could "show" me the virus that was on my computer.  I told him I would not do it, but asked if there was a phone number where my husband could call him back.  He gave me a phone number, but told me that I should not wait.  I needed to do something right then.

I told him that I felt suspicious.  I even told him that I write a blog about scams and lies, and I was not about to rush into doing anything on my computer, simply because a stranger had called and was telling me to.  The part about the blog did not phase him.  (I guess this blog is not that scary, yet.)  He continued to push me.

Then, I asked him if my husband or our computer technician could call back and handle it.  The minute I said the words "our computer technician," he hung up on me.

When my husband came home, he called the number that had shown up on caller ID.  It took him to a company that sells anti-virus programs.  My husband is convinced that the man on the phone was trying to get me to go to a website that would either show a phony virus on my computer, or would download a virus to my computer.  Then, he would sell me an anti-virus program to "fix" my problem. I am so relieved that I did not fall for it.

My husband was so infuriated, that he reported the phone call, my conversation with the salesman, and the phone number to the Federal Internet Crime Complaint Center at  This government agency shares information with other law enforcement agencies, both federal and local.  Hopefully, the governement will be able to shut them down.  Of course, since the man sounded foreign, there is a good chance that he was calling from another country.  In that case, there is very little the that our law enforcement agencies can do.  We just all have to be suspicious any time we receive calls like that.

Since I initially wrote this, two people I know have also had the same phone call.  In one case, the man listened patiently to the entire explanation as it was enthusiastically given by the saleswoman on the phone.  He was told that the Microsoft Help Desk had identified a virus on his computer, and he needed to go to a certain website to see it.  When the saleswoman was finished, my friend calmly informed her that he didn't even own a computer!  Obviously, these people are just making random phone calls!

If you have had a similar experience, I would like to hear about it.  If you have ever had the Microsoft Help Desk actually place an unsolicited call to you, I would like to hear about that, too.  In addition, you may want to contact the Federal Internet Crime Complaint Center.  We need to band together to put a stop to these types of fraudulent sales techniques, whether they originate in the United States or other countries.

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Photo courtesy of:  http://www.morguefile/


  1. Thank you, City. I hope that this blog post will help keep people from falling for this scam! Since I wrote it, I have actually been called by the company again. They are unbelievably brazen!

  2. Thank you for your comments. I find these scams to be constant ... and very annoying!